User:Hindustanilanguage/Urdu Wikipedians Skype Call
This is the transcript of the dialogue between five enthusiastic Urdu Wikipedians over the Skype. It assumes significance because it tries to throw light on some of the crucial issues facing the Urdu Wikipedia and its community and is probably the first effort of its kind in connecting Urdu Wikipedians from places as diverse as India, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Finland.
This meeting is based on 10-point agenda already communicated to the Urdu Wikipedians. It took place on April 29, 2014 between 4-6 pm Indian Standard Time.The actual dialogue was in Urdu but the text here is in English for the purpose of reference and analysis.
The five participating Urdu Wikipedians are as follows: Muzammil (M), Shuaib Nadwi (S), admin, Urdu Wikipedia, India, Tahir Mahmood (T), admin, Urdu Wikipedia, originally from Pakistan but currently based in Saudi Arabia, Qaisarani (Q), a Finland-based Urdu Wikipedian and Irfan Arshad (I), a student from Pakistan.
M: Well, I hope all our friends have gone through the 10-point agenda. Our focus areas are the working of the Urdu Wikipedia in general and strengthening the Urdu Wikipedia Community in particular. Let us begin by first introducing ourselves. My name is Muzammmil. I have been associated with Wikimedia projects since a long time. Since the last year I was working as Programme Officer, Access to Knowledge, Centre for Internet and Society, Bangalore. Prior to this, I spent several years in the teaching field. This was my brief intro, now its upto you, friends, to introduce yourselves.
S: My name is Shuaib. I am from Nagpur. Like you, I also belong to the teaching field. Since 2012 I’ve been actively editing Urdu Wikipedia.
T: Assalamu Alaikum. My name is Tahir. I am basically from Lahore. I work for a company in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Originally, I knew only the English Wikipedia which I referred to for the purpose of filing information from the internet. Later, in 2012 I was pleasantly surprised to see the Urdu Wikipedia and decided to actively participate on it.
M: I’ve seen that you also contribute on Hindi Wikipedia.
I: Well, I do. But my focus is Urdu Wikipedia.
M: Does anyone have any idea about our friend Ameen Akbar.
T: He hails from Muzaffargarh. But I think he’s currently based in Karachi.
M: Well, let me tell you friends, I joined the Urdu Wikipedia in 2011. Around that time, some of the most active Wikipedians were Rahmat Ali Chitrali, Mahboob Alam, Samarqandi and another person with the username Urdutext. I presume that of all these, the last two hailed from India. Unfortunately, these friends are no longer very active.
S: Your assertion about Samarqandi being Indian might be right. But in one of my interactions with him, he asserted that he is currently in Japan. Maybe in connection with his job.
Location Analysis of Urdu Wikipedians
M: Coming straight to our agenda, where are most Urdu Wikipedians concentrated.
S: Based on the social networking sites interaction, I can assert for sure that more number of contributors are either located or hail from Pakistan than India. However, there a number of contributors from India as well, and a few from other locations.
Urdu Wikipedia Content Composition
M: Coming to the content aspect, a de-adminship move was initiated and passed against an admin because of his puritan approach for the language in dealing with modern terminology, incorporating tons of neologism which is not used anywhere except Urdu Wikipedia. Take, for instance, terms for upload (زبراثقال), download (زیراثقال) and click (طق). These terms are not used anywhere else. Are we not going to change these terms?
T: We will change these terms. But we need to first develop a community consensus. Then the changes will take place on TranslateWiki. We have already changed Wikipedia in Urdu from وکی پیڈیا to ویکیپیڈیا on MediaWiki after a community consensus.
M: What about the use of these terms in articles?
T: We’ve already simplified a number of articles. It is an ongoing process.
M: Congratulations on the Urdu Wikipedia Community crossing the 50,000+ mark. But there a lots of concerns regarding this feat on the mailing lists as you can see here: http://lists.wikimedia.org/pipermail/wikimediaindia-l/2014-April/011144.html The general feeling or skepticism is that this is a bot-assisted achievement and does not highlight an active community.
S: I would like reiterate that the article creation is by no means an end in itself. It is the first phase of article creation. We are also in the process of expanding and modifying them suitably.
Areas having more articles on Urdu Wikipedia
M: What are the areas which have more articles on Urdu Wikipedia?
T: Cities and personalities.
Areas having fewer articles on Urdu Wikipedia
M: And areas having less number of articles?
T: I tried to create some articles but the problem is of terminology. There are people who argue the use of simple spoken language and others who want a more chaste language.
Urdu Wikipedia Community and stubs
M: Coming to stubs, what is your take about them? The Telugu Wikipedia has fixed some standards for acceptability of articles, so have you thought about it?
S: We want our articles to be anywhere between 100 kb to 200 kb at least.
M: Let us assume that I create a new article with just one line: “Ramagundem is in Andhra Pradesh”. What will be your take?
S: We’ll definitely try to expand it - taking the material and references from English Wikipedia as well as other sources. But we’ll not delete it.
M: One of the users of the Urdu Wikipedia has created a list of one-line or two-line articles on practically all hospitals under the “Category: Hospitals of Karachi”. How far is it okay?
T: If somebody wants an article on hospitals in Karachi, then they all should definitely go by the notability criteria only, otherwise all such articles should be deleted.
S: How do you define notability?
T: One way is to see the existence of the article on English Wikipedia or to the author to create the article first on English Wikipedia.
S: What if the writer isn’t comfortable with English?
M: I think we can go by the English Wikipedia:Notability guidelines.
Technical issues on Urdu Wikipedia
M: Okay. Let us move on to the technical issues. How often have you encountered problems in typing?
S: What problems?
M: Consider a word such as laaegi (“she will bring”). You can, traditionally, write لا ئے گی or لائیگی . But what I often see is that people type it as لاءے گی or لاءیگی. That is, proper ligature between hamza and ye is not formed.
Q: This appears to be a problem.
T: Yesterday a new font has been uploaded. I hope this problem will soon be resolved.
S: Is there any other problem which you faced?
M: I noticed peculiar problems of double typing of input letters and strangely formed ligatures.
S: Where is it? Did you file a bug on Bugzilla?
M: Yes, I did. Here is the link: https://bugzilla.wikimedia.org/show_bug.cgi?id=62635
S: Let me read it.
Q: How often you see such problematic things?
M: Sometimes. Although not often.
S: How do you overcome the problems?
Q: The problem needs to be resolved. The alternatives are only working solutions.
Organizations where Wikipedia orientation programmes can be carried out
M: What are the organizations where Wikipedia orientation programmes can be carried out? Here my focus is India.
S: I think you should begin with Maulana Azad National Urdu University.
M: I have already been part of Access to Knowledge, Centre for Internet and Society, Bangalore workshop in the university - Probably the first ever Urdu Wikipedia Workshop in the world.
M: On March 4, 2014. I am sure you’ve read the project page of this workshop.
S: I don’t remember.
M: Well, when I created the “ویکیپیڈیا:تعلیمی نشست/حیدرآباد/حیدرآباد 2014”, I erred with a character space which was corrected by you.
S: I do remember it now. Are there any further collaboration plans with the Urdu University?
M: Well, an Urdu standalone plan for 2014-15 has been drafted by Centre for Internet and Society, Bangalore which can be seen here:
I was involved with the preparation of this standalone plan as well as the Hindi language plan. Let us hope that the CIS Access to Knowledge director will put these initiatives into practice for the growth of both these language Wikipedias.
Cities which are prospective targets for Urdu Wikipedia outreach
M: Which Indian cities are prospective targets for effective Urdu Wikipedia outreach programs?
S: Delhi, Lucknow, parts of Maharashtra, Bihar and Hyderabad. Indian Urdu speakers can be properly channelised to become great contributors of Urdu Wikipedia.
Any other issue(s) the Urdu Wikipedia community feels necessary
S: You said one more person will join you?
M: Well, when we decided to speak only in Urdu, I was left alone.
S: Will this conversation be documented.
S: Once you are through, send me a copy.
M: Okay. Tell me about my article on the Indian freedom fighter Ram Prasad Bismil.
S: Well, I’ve nominated it for featured article category going by its merit.
M: I believe it is the lengthiest article on the Urdu Wikipedia as well as one with maximum number of references.
M: Well, the credit for the article goes to Dr M L Krant Varma. He had written the article for Hindi Wikipedia and asked me to translate it into Urdu.
M: By the way, Hindi and other Indian language Wikipedias have had editathons such as “Lilavati’s Daughters” or articles on Indian women scientists. How about editathons on Urdu Wikipedia?
S: We need to plan for these.
M: How technically sound are the active Wikipedians here?
S: Not much.
M: But you’ve created bots.
M: How do you use Python?
S: We create bots.
M: That completes all the discussion points of this sitting. Thank you, friends, for sparing your valuable time for this Urdu Wikipedia Skype call. I hope we will have more such calls and interactions and build Urdu Wikipedia on par with any south Asian language Wikipedia.
Others: Sure.Thank you.
Outcomes of the Skype call
- Current geographic orientation of Urdu Wikipedian: Mostly Pakistan, followed by India, a few places elsewhere.
- Terminology needs a change; Consensus / majority vote followed by changes on TranslateWiki.
- Bot-generated articles will be reworked for Wikipedia standards.
- Most articles on Urdu Wikipedia: Places followed by personalities.
- Most need articles on Urdu Wikipedia: Science - use of simpler / complex terminology an issue stopping article creation.
- Ideal expected size of an article on Urdu Wikipedia: 100kb - 200 kb.
- Notability criteria of the English Wikipedia equally valid for Urdu.
- Technical issues confronting Urdu Wikipedia (a) Formation of ligatures (b) Bugs reported on Bugzilla.
- Most potential Indian organization for Wikipedia outreach: Maulana Azad National Urdu University, Hyderabad.
- Places to be targeted for outreach: North India, Hyderabad and Maharashtra.
- Need for planning editathons on the Urdu Wikipedia.